All of the tunes in this book are here because they have the quality of enchantment. Music is magic, and that is what this book is about.
When I was thirteen, I learned a word which I will never forget. My mother is a harpist, and together we used to drive down out of the mountains every weekend to a resort to play. Our repertoire included quite a few Celtic pieces which we both loved. These tunes often touched people. One night a woman from Wales came up to thank us, saying,"You have given me a feeling which in Welsh is called hiraeth'." When she began to describe the feeling, I knew what she meant. The music had given it to me many times. I have since looked it up, and the translation I found uses just the words she did: yearning, nostalgia, homesickness, grief. It is quite a mixture of feelings, really, because it includes the deep joy of having something in your heart to long for. I believe that the myriad of feelings which spring from Celtic music are as much a part of it as the actual notes.
I have always wanted to have a collection of tunes for flute alone,
and here is a whole book of beautiful, complete melodies to choose from. If a lament or a jig singing in your head is calling you to play, pick up your flute, open the book, and you have all you need. If you are playing for others, what better than to give them one of these wonderful tunes to remember?
These are some of my favorite solos, yet when I want to play with another musician, I use the same pieces. This works extremely well and is lots of fun. If you want to try it, find someone who plays a chord instrument - all the necessary symbols are in the book.
The CD which comes with the book has all 44 of the tunes in the same order in which they appear in the book. The CD will give you insights into the music, and it will be enjoyable to listen to on its own merit. For additional information, be sure to check out my web site at http://home.earthlink.net/~flutemusic/ or Allan's and mine at http://www.fluteandguitar.com
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Follow My Highland Soldier (Scottish) - It must have been stirring for any young Highland woman to see the soldiers parading. "They march so neat and they dress so gay. The drums they do beat and the pipes they do play...." There is an optimistic and martial quality to this tune. If only the soldiers had been marching home.
Blythe Was the Time (Scottish) - "Misty are the glens and the dark hills sae cloudy, O! That aye seemed sae blythe wi' my dear Hieland laddie, O!" The bittersweet sound of this melody is typical of much Scottish music and is one of the things I like best about it. The lass, amid happy dreams of her dead beloved, bids farewell to her "mammie and daddie," her sheep, her dog, and, in my favorite line, the hills: "Fareweel ye knowes, noo sae cheerless and scroggie, O!"
Carpenter's Morris - Here is a very old dance tune that is just plain fun. I love the syncopation. This would be a great one to find a drummer for - or a dancer. "Morris" in Middle English meant "Moorish," and there is just a hint of that in this piece.
The Gentle Maiden (Irish) - If the composer had a particular maiden in mind when writing this, then what a pleasant reverie it must have been. I find it hard to stop playing this one; after the variation I think I will go back to the tune just once more, and then...
O as I Was Kissed Yestreen (Scottish) - This bagpipe tune works very well on the flute. It is interesting to add pipe-like ornaments and play with the tone of the flute. I have kept my experimenting off the recording (so far), but I am interested to hear of any nice effects you discover.
Arrane ny Skeddan (Manx) - The Isle of Man is tiny, and the last "natural-born" speaker of Manx Gaelic died decades ago, but the extraordinary music of its people is wonderfully alive. This is the "Song of the Herring".
Song of the Falcon Chief (Manx) - Both the title and the music set my mind racing. The tune reminds me of some of the ancient South American music used during sacrifices. It's amazing that a whole feel and flavor can be carried through time and across oceans by only eight bars of music.
Hush! The Waves Are Rolling in (Old Gaelic Lullaby) - There is a storm, and the boats are being brought to shore and the sheep gathered in, but baby sleeps in the warm cottage. I can't actually remember being in that small silent center amid the din, but I think I come closest to the feeling when I play music.
Hunting the Hare (Welsh) - This happy tune bounds along very much the way a hare would and is great fun to play.
Fisherman's Lilt - It is easy to lilt with these compelling phrases and let the bar lines melt away. I have loved Allan's variation since I first heard it. He wrote it for guitar, and it really sings.
The Foggy Dew (Irish) - The Irish melodies go right to my heart. There are a few versions of this song. I prefer the one which includes this verse: "But to and fro in my dreams I go, and I'd kneel and pray for you. For slavery fled, O glorious dead, when you fell in the Foggy Dew." I try not to rush the triplets in the variation because it sounds better that way.
The Cuckoo's Nest (Welsh) - Cuckoo is right, so have fun. Allan's variation was originally written for the guitar and mine for the flute. This is a blast to play.
I Left Him on the Mountainside (Walsh) - Sorrow and joy are often inextricably mixed. Maybe this is what makes a lot of Scottish music so real and close. Anyway, I find it less confusing to play about than think about.
Cold and Raw (Scottish) - Purcell used this melody as a ground bass in 1692. I don't know how long it had been around then. One hundred years later, it appeared in The Beggar's Opera, and Robert Burns wrote words for it. To me it seems likely that musicians will be writing new melodies around it and poets new verses for it in yet another 300 years.
Road to Listonvarna/The Morris Dance - Allan plays these melodies together, and I liked them so much this way that I wrote a flute part to go with them. That is what these variations are based on. When I start the second tune it always seems lighter, as if a dancer has come tripping along after a line of soldiers.
Silent, O Moyle (Irish) - For sad and gentle music, the Irish have it. I can play or hear this tune over and over. Thomas Moore's words to it include these lines: "When shall the swan, her death-note singing, sleep with wings in darkness furled? When will heav'n, its sweet bell ringing, call my spirit from this stormy world?" Suo Gan (Welsh Lullaby) - Here is one of the simplest, sweetest tunes I have heard. The Welsh are known for their singing, and it isn't hard to imagine why when you hear this beautiful lullaby.
Suo Gan (Welsh Lullaby) - Here is one of the simplest, sweetest tunes I have heard. The Welsh are known for their singing, and it isn't hard to imagine why when you hear this beautiful lullaby.
Kemp's Jig - This lively tune is about 400 years old. It was written to commemorate Will Kemp's feat of dancing the Morris all the way from London to Norwich. He was one of Shakespeare's players, and a famous comedian. He was accompanied by a pipe-and-tabor player, and on still mornings and evenings the pipe could be heard for a mile. The variation can be used as a duo part if the first player begins the melody as the second player starts the variation. Then the first player should continue through the variation as the second player goes to the beginning to play the melody.
Young Catherine (Carolan) - Many of Turlough O'Carolan's tunes are portraits, and though this one is short, it has a quality that makes it seem very much a picture of an individual, painted with feeling.
My Thousand Times Beloved (Irish) - It is hard to think of a nicer melody. The tempo marking is just a suggestion; I play this one very differently each time, and I hope you will play it how you like it.
Pat's Missing Finger (Walsh) - If you know someone who plays bones, spoons, or bodhran, ask him or her to play with you on this tune. I haven't tried drumming with my feet while I play, the way the Canadian fiddlers do, but if you can do it (and still breathe), let me know.
Lassie, Lie Near Me (Scottish) - The variation in this piece is an ornamentation of the air and not a new melody. You may want to embellish it another way, and if you are not comfortable improvising, or if you come up with something you like, then write it down. Ornamenting an existing tune is a good way to begin writing.
Shule Agra (Irish) - In America this moving melody has survived as "Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier." Some of the words are the same: "Only death can cease my woe, Since the lad of my heart from me did go." The music is well over three hundred years old. The sentiment and anguish are timeless.
The Butterfly - I always get carried away by this weaving melody, whether I am listening or playing. The variation can be used as a duo part if you have another melody-instrument player who wants to try it. Begin together, one with the melody and the other with the variation, then switch.
The Swan - This tune, like Fisherman's Lilt, floats away from the bar lines and has its own peculiar meter. I love the way Allan's variations continue it, quietly at first, then soaring. It really tells a story.
MacCrimmon's Lament (Scottish) - "O'er Coolin's face the night is creeping; the banshee's wail is round us sweeping." The lyrics are as haunting as the melody of this 250-year-old lament.
Come, Give Me Your Hand - I heard that this was a gift of reconciliation from the composer to a friend he had quarreled with. I hope she forgave him.
Cremonea (Carolan) - Because Carolan was not the technical wizard at the harp that some of his contemporaries were, he was encouraged by a kind patron to write music to supplement his talents. He sat down and wrote a knockout of a tune. You may know it; it's very popular today, and is called (with variations of spelling) Sheebag Sheemore. Cremonea is a very different sort of tune. I find it evocative.
Send em Running (Walsh) - The rhythm of the sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth, which is in this tune as well as some others, is called a "Scots snap". I like its name almost as much as its sound.
Carolan's Farewell (Alexander) - When I first met Allan, this was one of the tunes we played. I loved the sound of it right away. Playing it or listening to it pulls me into a faraway, magical place. Pick up the flute or put on the recording (close your eyes) and see where you go.
The Chase (from Into the Hills) (Walsh) - The flute has always seemed to me to belong to the hills. Whether that idea comes from hearing of shepherds with their pipes when I was a child, or whether it has to do with the timbre of the instrument, I am not sure. This seems like a natural sort of tune for the flutist.
Niel Gow's Lament for the Death of His Second Wife (Gow) - The flowing and graceful melody of this lament may come as a surprise after hearing the somewhat cumbersome title. Niel Gow was a composer and fiddle player of great influence in 18th century Scotland.
The Queen's Dream (Carolan) - Both the title and the piece have a mysterious quality, and I wonder what the composer was thinking, or what he knew, when he thought of them. There is a very similar tune entitled "The Queen's Marsh" which I have seen listed as Welsh.
Pastheen Fionn (Irish) - This tune is a joy to play because it rocks along so easily. I have known and played this one for many years, and I keep liking it more.
The Exile Song (Scottish) - There is something powerful about this piece. The rhythm is a large part of that. I find that a nice feel is developed by thinking of the second and fifth beats while playing.
Fear a' Bhata, "the Boatmen" (Scottish) - Here is a melody that plays itself in my head, often when I am only half aware of it. Again, I like the Scots snap.
Parting Forever (Irish) - "Let the gay music swell, till the time comes to sever. My heart knoweth well, we are parting forever." This melody is a favorite old friend. It seems to me that it could use a variation. I haven't written one yet; maybe you will.
Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon (Scottish) - I have listened to this lovely tune, played by my mother on the harp, since I was a baby, and I can call up the sound of her playing it as clearly as any recording.
Mary's Lament (Irish) - In Canada, this air has survived as "The River in the Pines," with tragic words. I find it to be a flexible tune; it can actually be played quite lightly if the performer is in that mood.
Hush My Babe, Lie Still and Slumber (Northumbrian) - This sweet melody is only eight bars long, but in 1715 the hymn text writer Isaac Watts wrote 7 verses to it. It can certainly take both repetition and variation. I like coming back to the quiet melody after the somewhat ornate final variation.
An Emigrant's Daughter - Allan's variation has become so much a part of the piece for me that it would seem incomplete not to play them together. Why it is that so many beautiful things can come of loss and sadness, I don't know, but the emigrant's daughter died on her way to her new life in the New World, and this tune was born.
Johnny Cope (Scottish reel) - It is fun to play with the accents in this tune. Putting some of them on the upbeat will create an interesting fiddle-like feel. It can be tough for the flute player to find places to breathe in many fiddle tunes, but it is common and accepted among Irish flute players to leave notes out here and there in order to stay alive.
Manx Lullaby (Isle of Man) - Lullabies are a natural choice for the flute player. I especially like the wooden (or wooden-headed) flutes for these tunes as their sound is very close to the human voice. Sometimes I play this in one (as a slow waltz) and other times more languorously. It seems that the melody itself chooses how it wants to be played on a particular day.
Blind Mary (Carolan) - I learned this tune from Allan, and I love it. It is a very gentle portrait indeed. The music will say much more to you than I can here, so the best thing to do is play it.
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